Hoka One One Speedgoat 2 ReviewAugust 29, 2017
- Aggressive outsole
- Wide heel fit
- Narrow forefoot fit
- Snug toe box
- Short tongue
The Hoka One One Speedgoat 2 is a versatile trail runner that puts a burly outsole and well cushioned midsole together with a supportive upper, in a surprisingly lightweight package. Our testers had some concerns about the heel fit, but praised the Speedgoat 2 for being nimble, smooth, and comfortable on the trail.
The Hoka One One Speedgoat 2 is a bottom-to-top full revamp of the debut Speedgoat, which came out in 2015. The updated Speedgoat 2 retains the versatility and superb grip of the original, but substantially improves on the fit, weight, and durability. The Speedgoat 2 sticks with Hoka One One’s max-cushion design philosophy, but the final package feels lightweight and speedy, not clunky or unstable. It was the only shoe in this round of testing that weighed in at under 10oz for a men’s size 9, and it was more than a full ounce lighter than the next lowest-weight models (the Asics Gel-FujiRado and Altra Timp, both at 10.7oz). This version sports an upgraded Vibram Megagrip outsole with deeper lugs than the original Speedgoat, as well as new lug pattern that improves stability on off-camber and downhill trails. Overall, this is a shoe that’ll perform well for a wide range of runners on a wide range of trails. Although some wear-testers had trouble with the fit in the heel and midsole flexibility, their overall impression was positive. One wear-tester noted that he was, “very satisfied with its performance, its ability to be a fast and nimble performer on highly technical trails and its rugged build without feeling clunky.” Overall, the redesigned Speedgoat 2 is a versatile trail shoe that performs well on both aggressive, rocky terrain and smooth-rolling trails. The outsole is aggressive enough that it’s not the best choice for a multi-use road/trail hybrid shoe, but for trail runners, it could be a go-to shoe for both training and racing.
To assess comfort, our testers looked for the overall fit of the shoe, specifically its cushioning and breathability. Assessments of fit differed, with some wear-testers reported that the Speedgoat 2 fit like a glove straight out of the box, while others called the shape strange and unnatural. All noted that the Speedgoat 2 offers an incredible cushion-to-weight ratio, and that the oversized maximalist EVA midsole is extremely comfortable. One called it, “the Cadillac of trail cushioning.” The revamped uppers have stretchy, engineered mesh with well-placed TPU overlays to provide structure. There were no points of pressure or rubbing, but the Speedgoat 2 doesn’t sacrifice security for comfort. The midfoot wrap and mesh panels are snug and supportive, and the Speedgoat 2 runs well whether they’re laced up tight for hard efforts or a bit looser for relaxed cruising across easy singletrack.
As the lightest pair in this round of testing, the Speedgoat 2 took the field with a speed advantage. Compared to heavier, more burly models like the Hoka One One Stinson ATR 4 or La Sportiva Akyra, the Speedgoat 2 feels quick with easy foot turnover. The slightly rockered midsole also contributes to the speedy feel on the trail, and the slightly firm EVA midsole keeps the foot from sinking in and feeling mushy.
Security of Fit
The updated shape of the last is the biggest, best improvement over the previous Speedgoat model. The new last is wider through the forefoot, which is comfortable and stable, even on uneven and sloppy terrain. One tester noted that his toes didn’t slip over the edges of the midsole, and the toe box didn’t feel cramped or restricted, but not so wide that the forefoot feels sloppy or unsupportive. As he put it, “there’s enough room for comfort, but not an excess.” Other wear-testers still found the Speedgoat 2’s last too narrow through the forefoot, while also being too wide in the heel. One tester observed that he “had to really crank down on the laces to try and stop the heel slippage, but it remained.” Trail runners who prefer the wide forefoot of Altra or Topo may still find the Speedgoat 2 more restrictive than they prefer. Others may also find the tongue too short, especially those who tie with a heel lock in an effort to prevent heel slip.
Our wear-test team was looking for how nimble and confident the shoe felt across a variety of terrains, including soft ground, hardpack, rocks, and roots, as well as wet ground and off-camber sections. The Speedgoat 2 is versatile across a range of trails, with one wear-tester observing that it “handled wet rocks, dusty trails and damp mud with ease.” However, the high stack height muted the shoe’s groundfeel a bit. The substantial cushion may make some runners feel disconnected from the terrain. As one wear-tester put it, “the elevated stack takes some getting used to when agility is required.”
Here, our wear-testers were looking for the shoe’s energy return and how well it gave them a quick reaction when they picked up the pace. The Speedgoat 2’s responsiveness created a bigger divide on the wear-testing team than any other category. One person gave it the highest possible marks, noting, “I was able to push hard and fast with quick foot turnover for sustained speed. I felt confident with every stride.” Another disagreed strongly, and felt like he was fighting against the shoe to run a fast pace. As he put it, the Speedgoat 2 felt sluggish because “the extreme cushion increases the energy output required on each stride.”
The new Vibram Megagrip outsole is outstanding. The rubber is sticky over rocks and exposed roots, and shows evidence of being hardy and durable. The 5mm multi-directional lugs are deep enough to inspire confidence on rough scree, but not so aggressive that they feel sluggish on smoother, well-groomed singletrack. One wear-tester noted, “I pushed the Speedgoat 2 through a variety of different paces on different terrains, and they were consistently sticky, stable and confident.” Combined with the maximalist 32mm/28mm stack height, the Speedgoat 2 offers excellent protection on the trail, even without a midsole rock plate.
Jason is a trail runner and ultra-marathoner who lives with his wife and children in the frozen tundra of northeastern Wisconsin.